Sterilisation 'a step too far'

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 16:11 06/06/2012

Relevant offers

Politics

Stacey Kirk: Is New Zealand's mental health service doing more harm than good? Legal cannabis could collect $150 million a year but Bill English isn't pursuing it Tracy Watkins: Helen Clark's down but not out in the race to lead the UN Foreign Minister Murray McCully contracted Zika Veteran Taranaki regional councillor will not contest seat in upcoming election PM's department warned of Chinese trade threats, but didn't brief him Failed leadership coup exposes more 'toxic culture' at Wellington City Council Patrick Gower admits man crush on Donald Trump's son in weird live video from RNC Helen Kelly: 'My back is broken and I only have months to live but I'm pain free' US Vice President Joe Biden accepts challenge at Government House

The Government is considering strengthening measures to remove babies of parents who abuse or neglect their children, but is stopping short of forced sterilisation or contraception.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today that babies of 148 parents had been removed within 30 days of them being born in 2011.

In 2010, about 177 babies were removed.

The court-ordered removals were because authorities feared for the safety of the babies; most had siblings who had been abused or neglected, or parents who suffered mental illness.

Under changes being considered, parents would be warned during court sentencing that they faced having subsequent children taken off them, potentially permanently.

Prime Minister John Key said New Zealanders should prepare for an at times uncomfortable conversation about child abuse following a case involving a mother smothering her baby after rolling over her while drunk.

A government had a White Paper on vulnerable children in progress and would spark that conversation.

"That conversation has to happen."

"The government already takes 148 babies a year at the delivery suite off mothers that we don't think are fit to continue to look after their children…and are demonstrated unfit to do so......that’s a big call for the government at any time."

The conversation that now needed to take place was whethe authorities should "push a little harder on that policy".

He rejected suggestions of compulsory sterilisation for bad parents and thought that would make most people uneasy.

"[But] there is a very strong case to say some people are not fit to raise children."

Bennett said ministers were also looking at sanctions such as preventing the parent from living or working with children.

"At the moment you could live with or have future children and it would be taken on its merits at that point.

"We don't even do that with dogs that have been abused - there can be a sanction that you cannot own a dog for two or five years (but) we don't do that with children."

Bennett said the process of develooping the white paper gave the Government the opportunity to make changes.

However, sterilisation was "a step too far" and ministers were also not looking at stopping people have further children.

Final decisions, including the threshold measures would kick in at, had not been made, she said.

Ad Feedback

- Stuff

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content